Mmegi Blogs :: Let us critic Mugabe on the content of his statement, not his old age
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Saturday 17 February 2018, 10:00 am.
Let us critic Mugabe on the content of his statement, not his old age

The President of Zimbabwe is reported to have made damning remarks about the extent of our foreign affairs and international relations. The elderly Zimbabwean statesman made remarks which shall be reproduced in this column and will form a subject matter of my analysis to the extent that the next regime after President Ian Khama needs to fully introspect on our foreign relations as a matter of urgency.
By Owen Nsala Wed 11 Oct 2017, 15:31 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Let us critic Mugabe on the content of his statement, not his old age

The remarks received audience via a video that circulated on social media although I have my doubts whether it was indeed meant for public consumption. That being said, the video has reached us and we must deal with the pertinent facts and issues it raises.

In the presence of South African delegates and the South African President, Jacob Zuma, President Mugabe jokingly passed a remark that there was no how Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi could have won her race for the African Union chairmanship. Mugabe emphatically stated that the loss was written all over, and that even before the contest, he had already written Venson-Moitoi’s obituary regarding the chairmanship. There is a deliberate mention of the presence of South African delegates in that gathering and their well recognisable laughter and amusement to the speech for reasons to follow. The deliberate mention of the South Africans is a kind reminder that in our sleep, Botswana has always regarded itself as a strong ally, both at trade level and at diplomatic level and we have always believed we were blood brothers. Here they are, seen in their true colour and spirit found secretly participating in a gossiping session. Let me not be derailed.

In the footage that has found wide circulation and view, President Mugabe says:“They sweated, you sweated, we sweated, one man did not sweat. He stayed at home and expected that wonders would happen. They did not happen. We were very sorry. Everybody just said ‘aah, you, we have not seen your President here. He doesn’t attend our meetings and what will happen if we placed our organisation in your hands, in his hands? So sorry lady, we won’t give you the vote’. She worked hard, she was very sorry to lose. We were sorry also. But we knew in advance that we were trying a very impossible one. So we lost in that case”. Typical of Mugabe’s presentations, laughter and giggles followed soon thereafter from the attendants.

In rebuttal to the statement, the government of Botswana simply retorted by blaming the statement on the old age of President Mugabe and sought to not engage him. It was a move borne of convenience rather than substance. If one reads the statement in another context, that came across as an admission by the government that indeed the non-activity or availability of President Khama in the run-up to the elections could have cost Venson-Moitoi a seat


at the African Union. It was, to say the least, a childish rebuttal which offered nothing more than one who has his head buried in the sand. It was a damning act of trying to save face in the midst of allegations you cannot conquer or rebut.

Let us sit and recollect that the statement was issued by an elderly African Statesman who has seen it all across the continent and outside the continent. Here is a man simply saying that in the trenches of African politics, your legitimacy is pointed and identifiable by your action or inaction. We cannot, no matter how we disagree with him, wish his thinking off as words of an old man. He is an old, but thoughtful and resourceful man. He has given us an insight on how Africa views us from outside and this is an opportune moment for self-introspection.

The hope can be that when the government chooses to go silent on Mugabe, it will, in the comfort of its privacy and behind closed doors, seriously consider the ramifications of the statement made by Mugabe. Both South Africa and Zimbabwe remain our close allies and we share a border with them. They sat at a table to have us on their gossip agenda and demonstrated the view from Harare and Pretoria.

Let us not fool ourselves and pretend we have a healthy relationship with the two countries when they view us as an inexperienced and spoilt kid in African politics. Questions must be asked and answers sought at the scale of international relations, what implications have followed from our diplomatic position and forever swings. Have we gone back or forward on our rather fluid and undefined foreign relations?

The baton passes to his Honour the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi to chart the way in so far as our international relations are concerned. The good thing for us as a country is that Masisi is unlikely to be unfazed by the stage when he ascends to the seat as he has been doing a lot of international assignments on behalf of President Khama.

We can only hope that he took the trips and exercises as a learning curve rather than as a precedent to the extent that vice presidents attend international conferences, meetings and gatherings whilst Presidents sit at home and pick and choose those foreign trips that only interest their hobbies and tastes.


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